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05 March 2024

Leverkusen boss prepared to sell Ballack


Former Germany captain Michael Ballack seems to have no future at Bayer Leverkusen after chief executive officer Wolfgang Holzhaeuser said they are prepared to sell him before the transfer window closes on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old cut a forlorn figure on Leverkusen's bench in freezing temperatures during Saturday's 1-1 German league draw with Werder Bremen and his days at Bayer are numbered with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.

Although he has played in 14 of Leverkusen's 18 league games this season, just five have been over the full 90 minutes and Ballack, who made 98 appearances for Germany, is no stranger to the Bayer bench.

To make matters worse, Holzhaeuser has had a public feud with Ballack's agent, Michael Becker, and with the transfer window set to close on Tuesday night, a late transfer has not been ruled out.

"If a club report an interest in Michael Ballack, then we are also willing to talk about the issue," the Bayer boss told German Sky Sports.

"But both Michael and this club are professional and we are all able to handle the next three months, (if that doesn't happen)."

Holzhaeuser stirred things up on Friday when he said the signing of Ballack in July 2010 had not been a success for Leverkusen, who host holders Barcelona in the Champions League's Round of 16 on February 14.

"It's reached the point where we must admit, all things considered, that after 20 months, things haven't worked out," he told the Cologne Express.

After his Chelsea contract expired two years ago, Ballack returned to the Bundesliga and Leverkusen after four years in London, but has been blighted by injury and bad fortune.

An ankle injury playing for the Blues in the FA Cup final in May 2010 ruled him out of the World Cup in South Africa and he then broke his leg in only his third game back with Leverkusen in September of the same year.

Having last played for Germany in March 2010, national coach Joachim Loew has said Ballack has no future in the squad.

Ballack fell foul of Bayer's bosses after openly showing his disgruntlement at being replaced after 60 minutes of Leverkusen's win over Mainz last weekend.

"We should expect more from a sporting perspective and we certainly expected more from him," said Holzhaeuser.

"He should think about how he behaves with regards to the club."

The tension between Ballack and the club has not gone unnoticed by his team-mates.

"You get used to it, there's been unrest for some time, but we're not affected," said Leverkusen captain Simon Rolfes.

Leverkusen defender Manuel Friedrich was more sarcastic.

"It weighs heavy on the heart, I could not sleep for three days and I'm glad I held out for 90 minutes," he said, tongue firmly in cheek.